South Africa condemns Mali coup

Johannesburg - South Africa on Thursday condemned the coup in Mali by renegade soldiers who stormed their way into the presidency as an unlawful bid for power.

"South Africa condemns any attempt to seize power through the use of force. We reiterate our conviction that no party should come to power through unlawful means," said a foreign ministry statement.

"It is our desire that the mutiny is addressed in a manner that does not jeopardise the overall security situation in Mali. This is particularly important in view of the security challenges in the north," it added.

Pretoria, which has closed its embassy in Bamako, expressed concern over northern Mali unrest by the secessionist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.

The mutinous soldiers, calling themselves the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy, said they had acted due to government's "inability" to end the Tuareg-led insurrection in the north.

"We call on the rebel group [especially the MNLA] to immediately cease hostilities, and on government forces to maintain discipline and resolve their internal concerns in a peaceful manner and through internal procedures," said the South African statement.

"In particular, senior military officers and political leaders being held hostage should be released immediately as an indication that the mutineers have the best intentions for the country and the army."

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